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Occupy AIPAC: Sign Language

Cross posted from NIACampus.org Student Reporting:

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Occupy AIPAC was a summit timed to coincide with the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference. Occupy AIPAC participants gathered to discuss issues, such as Iran, the Arab Uprising, Palestine and the affects of AIPAC in determining U.S. foreign policy on these topics. On Sunday, Occupy AIPAC activists rallied outside of the Walter E. Washington convention center, where hours earlier, President Obama and important names in the foreign policy world gave their speeches to the AIPAC Policy Conference attendees.

The purpose of the rally was to warn the American people of what the activists saw as the dangerous and overwhelming influence that AIPAC was having on United States’ foreign policy. Messages of justice for the Palestinian people and peace with Iran echoed throughout the event. Keynote speakers from activist organizations, musical performances, and poetry readings accompanied the long day of protest.

Although tensions were high between the opposing sides earlier that day, a patient few waited to the end of the AIPAC conference and greeted the AIPAC members as they exited the building. Despite the high emotions and impassioned speeches from earlier in the day, people from both sides of the issue came together on the sidewalks and began to respectfully share ideas, opinions, and stories.

I had the opportunity to speak with the diverse group of activists at the event. The following profiles present the various perspectives of these activists:

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Name: Grant

Age: 46

From: Washington, D.C.

Occupation: Director of Research Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy

Why are you out here today?

“Because you can’t just sit in an office and blog all day, you have to come out into the street you have to take actions that are visible you have to bring people out to protest in a peaceful, non-violent way and show, in this case AIPAC attendees, that we are opposed to their initiatives to launch war on Iran, to illegal settlements, to unwarranted influence in Congress that has no regulatory oversight whatsoever.”

Advice for Obama Administration on Iran:

“He needs to open a diplomatic presence. Why don’t they open up an embassy like the one they just built in Iraq in Iran—it is an extremely important country. They need to stop taking advice from the Israelis, who are absolutely hysterical about their IAEA regulated civilian nuclear program. They need to disregard AIPAC’s political pressure and go straight to the American people and say we’re not going to let Israel drive our foreign policy; we’re going to talk to Iran.”

Former NIAC intern dedicated summer to helping youth in West Bank

Two Georgetown University Students spent their summer pursuing an idealistic plan hatched up during a night of red bull drinking. Rod Solaimani, an Iranian-American of Jewish heritage and Hammad Hammad, a Palestinian Muslim organized summer camps in the areas of Deheisheh, Jalazun and Al-Azzeh.

  • 28 January 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 1 Comments
  • Culture, Iranian Youth, Uncategorized

Jihadi chic couture

keffiyeh2What common thread ties together celebrities such as Rachel Ray, the Jonas Brothers and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

In May of last year, a Dunkin Donuts coffee ad, featuring “EVOO” and “yummo” originator Rachel Ray, was pulled from circulation after Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin wrote in her blog that the keffiyeh (pronounced chafiyeh in Farsi) scarf Rachel was wearing “has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad. ”

Just a few weeks after Rachel Ray’s donning of “jihad” gear, Kevin Jonas aka “The Romantic One” of The Jonas Brothers heart-throb boy band was spotted wearing a keffiyeh in a Disney photo shoot. In a blog post, former McCain campaign advisor and present-day blogger Martin Eisenstadt protested the fashion faux pas. Though he gives himself a buffer, just by mentioning the idea that “The Romantic One” attempted to “seduce America’s young girls into being the next generation of Hamas sympathizers,” Eisenstadt attempts to promote an association between deplorable acts of violence and a scarf.

  • 16 January 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in DC, Legislative Agenda, Panel Discussion

“Rx to Obama: Real Change Now in the Middle East” Capitol Hill Briefing

Yesterday, at the Council for the National Interest Foundation‘s Capitol Hill briefing entitled “Rx to Obama: Real Change Now in the Middle East,” a panel of speakers added their voices to the swirling controversy over Dennis Ross’ alleged appointment as Middle East envoy in the Obama administration.

During the briefing, Eugene Bird, President of CNI expressed concern over Dennis Ross’s appointment as Iran envoy. “I’m not sure [Ross] has the appropriate credentials for the job,” he said. He cited Ross’s failure during the Oslo peace process and his role as mediator for the Hebron accord, where Israeli troops were redeployed from Hebron and other parts of the West Bank. “If I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions, I’d ask him ‘Do you believe that you made any mistakes during those times?'”

Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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